January 11, 2012

My name is Anna, and I'm a Thriftaholic...

I'm in the midst of a style-revolution, and the easiest way to restyle myself is to get new clothes! So what is this revolution? What caused it? What are my goals?

  1. I'm 27, and I want to look my age. I'm a mature woman, darnit, not a 20 year old "girl" that I'm often mistaken for. I want to look polished, stylish, and like I know what I want (even if I don't).
  2. I'm an individualist at the core. I want to be distinctive, memorable even.
  3. I used to dress uniquely in university, and even before. Then I dropped out of school. Then I dressed like every other 20-something. It does not make me feel good to be lost in the crowd, like a number, like a non-person.

Goals are good! Goals with parameters are even better!

I hereby solemnly swear to utilize as many pre-loved articles as possible.

Thankfully, I've never experienced the self-loathing some people experience in being "forced" to wear second-hand goods. As a child, I had memorable and pleasant experiences thrifting with my mother. Many of my favourite garments were at least ten years old, and many of my current favourites are! I know there's a stigma to second-hand associated with being poor, but seriously, with 80% of the world living on less than $10 USD per day (as a bar wench, I lived on around $13 per day), it's a pipe-dream for most people to think they'll ever live comfortably, never mind be *gasp* RICH!

Kindergarten class photo. I loved my thrifted red velvet dress and wore it til I got too big!
If you're not already inclined to check the thrift stores when you need new clothes, here are some reasons you should:

  1. Fibre crops such as cotton are not necessarily farmed sustainably or using good ethical practices. Victoria's Secret is being investigated due to the source of some of their cotton fabric. With a plethora of other companies accused of using manufacturers with bad labor practices, you can avoid directly supporting those unethical/unsustainable companies by becoming a secondary consumer. This is the same argument for the use of second-hand furs and leather, because it's rare that a private consumer can purchase wild-caught game skins directly from a tannery.
  2. Many thrift stores are community based, operated by volunteers. Salvation Army, Saint Vincent de Paul, and innumerable other small-scale, local thrift stores (such as Paws and Claws, run by the Orangeville, Ontario branch of the OSPCA) all provide invaluable services to people and animals who are truly in need. That's not to say I boycott Value Village (Savers in the USA), but I would remind you that they ARE a corporation, and only a tiny percentage of a given storefront's profits go to a local or regional charity (and the integrity of that charity's works is not necessarily unquestionable).
  3. Pre-loved garments have already stood the test of time. They were either made with higher quality materials, made with a better process, or were cared for properly. It's reasonable to assume that an 80s blouse that is already 20 years old will continue to age gracefully if laundered in a thoughtful manner. Occasionally, you find older pieces in various states of aging and repair, and that is a testament to the thought put into their manufacture AND consumption.
  4. You can have what no one else has, or you can have something trendy that's just BETTER. Second-hand clothing gives you a lot of stylistic freedom, while simultaneously giving you better return on investment. Just ask my $2 fern green Alfred Sung blouse. It's a great colour for this year's Pantone pallette, and yes, designer clothes really ARE better made than what you get at Walmart.

I spent my (and my boyfriend's, teehee) hard-earned money at the Encore Club's indoor yard sale and the Kirkland Lake Salvation Army, supporting my community, ethical consumption, AND my own self-worth!


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